Parenting & Family

PACE Academy in Richmond Hill

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  • Nov 20th, 2017 2:18 pm
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Newbie
Mar 26, 2008
4 posts
1 upvote
Both my daughters attended The Academy for Gifted Children from Grades 1 to 12. I was initially referred to this school by the headmaster at the Montessori school my eldest daughter attended (starting at age 3) who felt my daughter needed the stimulation and more challenging environment this school offered. She referred me to a parent that had both children enrolled that lived in Barrie. I discovered there were many students coming from great distances to attend this school. This parent's advice (a pharmacist/business woman) was to forget the 'cosmetics' of the school - as what was happening inside the school was what counted. I had looked at many options, but based on her strong recommendation, decided to pursue it. As it turned out - it was the best advice I ever received. Both my children thrived in this school - as have so many of the students that attended PACE (which is how it is referred to by the students). Their thirst for learning was satisfied on a daily basis - and they never ever wanted to miss a day of school. What I most loved about this school was that from the moment they started at the school in Grade 1, they were learning how to time manage, plan, organize how to achieve deadlines - a skill that is so lacking in so many students. Yes - they had a fair amount of homework, but they were also working two to three grade levels above their physical age when more homework would be required. They also were taught how to think - how to analyze, look at options, use common sense; critical thinking skills that last a lifetime. It is the one attribute of their teaching that a parent that had moved their child to the University of Toronto School really missed and felt was unique. (This family did not move because they were unhappy with PACE).

From the very start you will see the difference in the way they are taught spelling, grammar, reading comprehension etc. During the years, I had friends that were teachers in the public school system looking at my children’s schoolwork and they were impressed how advanced it was from what they were covering in the classroom - and - that my daughters were able to handle the work. It's amazing what kids can do when presented with a challenge. As for the teachers, I was always impressed that they were able to attract the caliber they did - including a number of PHd's. While the school is definitely academic in nature, there are opportunities for sports, music and theatre as part of the curriculum. They have an excellent music instructor, and in the past, an excellent theatre instructor as well. Every year they have a show and students show off their talents - and I was always so impressed with how extremely talented so many of the students were. The school participates in a lot of national and regional competitions academically and in the extra-curricular areas such as robotics. One of the best features of the school is their extra-curricular program for the students from grades 1 - 6. They can explore numerous options that are either included with the tuition or available at an extra fee - such as karate, etc. As well, they really push the children to get involved in volunteering and community programs - which exposes them to a totally different aspect of being a well rounded, globally aware student.

When it came time for high school I asked both my daughters if they wanted to attend other schools and made a point of taking them to look at their options including schools with the IB/AP programs. Neither of them wanted to leave PACE. They wanted to stay with like minded students and believed the education they were getting was on a different level to what was available. While every school has its own unique challenges, my daughters received an outstanding education at PACE - and both of them have thanked me on a number of occasions for enrolling them at this school - and for the education they received there. It is a small school - so students receive more personal attention and over the years, I have witnessed extremely shy children develop into outgoing well rounded young adults. The school has an amazing track record with it's students moving on and excelling at university, particularly given the small graduating classes. A number of them have ended up at Harvard, and Wharton, and many have won highly desired scholarships, offered spots in med schools, law school, and other highly competitive programs. One particular year 5 of the 20 students of the graduating class were offered a spot in the Health Sciences program at McMaster - a program where over 5000 apply for 140 spots - incredible results!! One of the reasons you will find it hard to get information on this school is that I found the director is quite humble about the achievements of their students. However, she works behind the scenes to make sure that students are considered for any opportunity available. While this school might not be for everyone - it was everything to my daughters - and as I see them excelling at university and in their lives I know that Academy for Gifted Children PACE played a huge part in the young adults they have become. I will be forever thankful to the teachers and the administration at this school - and to that Montessori teacher that recommended The Academy for Gifted Children PACE. I hope this information helps any parent trying to decide on the very important choice they will make for their child's education. I have personally referred three students that joined the school and remained there until graduation.
Newbie
Oct 5, 2013
6 posts
Richmond Hill
Hi Deal Diva,

Can you please let me know which university are both of your daughters attending now and what faculty?
Newbie
Mar 26, 2008
4 posts
1 upvote
To pace0411. While I appreciate your interest in my daughter's progress since they left PACE, I am not comfortable sharing information that would allow them to be identified. I will tell you that they are at excellent universities, have been on the honour roll every year, won numerous scholarships and awards, have been involved in their faculty and student government and have done a fair amount of volunteer work as well. They also held down part time jobs during the school year - and full time summer jobs during the summer. They both ended up in very different faculties - as they are quite different from each other in their interests. All of my daughter's friends have gone on to universities - such as U of T, Queen's, Western, McMaster, Ryerson, - or to the US or overseas - and have flourished. PACE students end up in all the faculties including political science, law, medicine, engineering, math, technology, sciences, education and the arts. Almost all of them continue with their education after their undergrad. When my girls were in the elementary program I often would see PACE graduates visiting the school - and would always ask them how they found their first year of university and the transition. Every one of them were doing very well - as they knew how to time manage, how to properly write essays, papers and exams, and were very prepared for university work. PACE equips students with all the skills they need to succeed - but like everything in life - it us up to the individual as to how they use those skills. I do know that my daughters will have a lifetime connection with PACE as the friendships they shared during their 12 years at the school continue on to this day.
Newbie
Oct 5, 2013
6 posts
Richmond Hill
Hi Deal Diva,

Thanks for sharing your opinions about PACE. In regarding the Scholarship, Is high percentage of graduating students would get the Scholarship? Will the Principal proactively to help students apply the scholarship? I still don't understand why a lot of kids eventually leave the school after they graduate from grade 8 at PACE?
Newbie
Mar 26, 2008
4 posts
1 upvote
Hi pace0411, You are welcome. PACE has an impressive record with regards to scholarship winners. There are certain scholarships where the student must be nominated by the principal of a school (i.e. Queen's Chancellor, Loran, U of T National Book Award etc) and is based on school population (i.e. 1 or 2 nominations by school of their top students). Others are awarded automatic admissions scholarships based on graduating GPA with no need for a separate application other than to the university. Some universities offer significant renewable entrance scholarships for those with 95+ GPA - (Laurier President's Gold Scholarship) and many other university specific scholarships where it is up to the student to apply. It is extremely competitive to win the big Canadian scholarships - i.e TD, as academic performance is only one aspect and includes student's contributions to community causes and leadership initiatives. Advice and assistance is provided to students, but applications are the responsibility of the student. Students and their parents should start early (ideally before choosing Gr 11 courses) with their research on what students need to do to qualify for both external and university scholarships. It takes time and a fair amount of work and there are deadlines that start early in the fall semester of Gr 12. It really helps if the student knows early what specific schools they want to apply to and the course of study as that helps narrow the search for scholarships or bursaries.

With regards to your question on why a student leaves PACE after Gr 7/8 - I can only offer speculation. It may have to do with financial reasons, desire to be exposed to a larger school, the student is finding the PACE program too challenging and/or the student is not performing. One must not assume that just because a child is smart - that they are great students - particularly if everything has always been so easy for them. They have to work hard at PACE. They may move to the public school system for what they perceive will provide a competitive advantage (a risky and short sighted strategy for a gifted student in my opinion). There are some parents that want their children to race through school and graduate years ahead of their peers. However, there have also been students that left and eventually returned to PACE for it's unique program. For those questioning what an IB or AP school offers, they have to remember that PACE is already is teaching at an accelerated level from the start. I know a student, now in medical school, that did AP courses in addition to his studies at PACE. He found that it had not been to his advantage as he ended up taking the university courses he had credits for anyways, as they were required for the program but also helped to boost his first year GPA. (AP credits are not used in calculating university GPA) Using the AP transfer credit can affect eligibility for scholarships or programs - and high marks (AP or not) are what universities use to gauge admissions and scholarships. For those in the public school system, AP courses have their benefit to get them prepared for university - but that is part and parcel of the curriculum at PACE and it's differentiated learning style. The beauty of PACE is that you have already been working at that advanced level for years and the benefit becomes evident when it comes time for applying to university and for scholarships. The students have quite a selection of credits - and marks - from which to choose their top six courses required for university. My daughters each had eleven Grade 12 courses from which to choose their top six marks. Studying at that level is also the reason the PACE students do so well when they get to university and is particularly evident in their first year - when so many students struggle to adjust to university. I was very happy that both of my children really wanted to continue their high school education at PACE and that the opportunity was available to them. One thing I always had when my children were at PACE was peace of mind; I always felt my daughters were safe - and that the school was on top of any concerns a parent might have. My daughters felt safe there too. As I said, both of them have thanked me a number of times for enrolling them at PACE and providing them with the education they received - and ultimately - it is their opinion that really counts.
Newbie
Oct 5, 2013
6 posts
Richmond Hill
Hi Deal Diva,

Thanks for all valuable information. In fact my daughter is currently attending PACE. I am more concerning about the high school curriculum, but you did answer most of my questions and concerns. I will let her stay at PACE until grade 12 if my daughter wish to stay.

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